This week Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab ran a piece about the New York Times’ digital branding efforts. It quoted a series of tweets by Max Pfennighaus, who is the executive creative director of brand and marketing at the Times and previously held a similar position at NPR, and whose job is to build the newspaper’s digital brand. He described the core challenge as the “grandpa in a nightclub” problem.
“Researching this story about getting old was revelatory thanks to @AndreaCharise and @thischairrocks” tweeted Anne Kingston, Senior Writer at Maclean’s magazine, when “Why it’s time to face up to old age” was published this week. That was gratifying, but reading the article—a sharp and balanced look at the social and economic costs of age denial—was even more so.
“A friend knows an actress whose alarm code—2828—reminds her of the age she must never surpass. (The repetition adds a touch of hysteria, which I like.),“ writes Carina Chocano in an essay in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. It’s a sharp reminder of how early ageism kicks in for women, especially in LA, where Chocano lives.
Two news stories last week, one about a 42-year-old nursing student running for homecoming queen and another about a 91 year old mayor swindling River Falls, Alabama, out of $201,000, got me thinking about the journalistic convention of including ages in stories.
I'm still figuring out the structure of the book, but I know what I want its message to be. Here's a draft of the new Introduction:
The demographic good fortune of the baby boom generation has its dark side. Privileged and powerful, Americans came of age in an era of youth movements (never trust anyone over 30!) and we’ve worshipped at the shrine ever since.
Betty Soskin and I have been in touch, and she pointed me to this video about her life and work as an outreach specialist and interpreter at Rosie the Riveter WWII/ Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, CA. Her long history in the area makes her an invaluable asset, not least because, as she puts it, “I’m at an age where I know how all the stories turned out.”